Neotribalism is the ideology that human beings have evolved to live in a tribal, as opposed to a modern, society, and thus cannot achieve genuine happiness until some semblance of tribal lifestyles has been re-created or re-embraced.
Certain aspects of industrial and post-industrial life, including the necessity of living in a society of strangers and interacting with organizations that have memberships far above Dunbar's number are cited as inherently detrimental to the human mind as it has evolved. In a 1985 paper, "Psychology, Ideology, Utopia, & the Commons," psychologist Dennis Fox proposed a number around 150 people. Recently some supporters of neo-Tribalism have put forth the argument that their ideas have been scientifically proven by the discipline of evolutionary psychology. This claim has been highly disputed, however.
Those that see Neotribalism as a political or quasi-political movement distinguish themselves from the reactionary Tribalism present in many parts of the world by emphasizing the necessity of establishing a global, or at least national, network of connected co-operating tribes, as opposed to the isolated, quarrelling groups of traditional tribal society. This anticipates the criticism by advocates of contemporary culture that tribal societies were almost invariably more violent and oppressive than modern ones.
The French Sociologist Michel Maffesoli was perhaps the first to use the term neo-Tribalism in a scholarly context. Maffesoli predicted that as the culture and institutions of modernism declined, societies would look to the organizational principles of the distant past for guidance, and that therefore the post-modern era would be the era of Neo-Tribalism. However, Maffesoli's anti-scientism is at odds with those in the movement that look to evolutionary psychology and anthropology for support.
Commentators such as Ethan Watters have credited, or blamed, growing neotribalist dynamics for contributing to the decline in marriage in the developed world, as 'modern tribes' form alternate means for satisfying social interaction.
Dr. Plinio Correa de Oliveira wrote in his book "Revolution & Counter-Revolution" that the Neo-Tribalist tendency would be the last stage of the Revolutionary process - although as a Catholic reactionary, Oliveira regarded this prospect with dread.
The Moderate orientation is associated with commentators such as Ethan Watters and a generally optimistic view on the possibility of a peaceful and non-disruptive transition to neo-Tribalism. Moderates interpret the 'environment' mentioned in the Evolutionary Principle to be mainly social.
In general radical neotribalist groups tend to agree that the current population of humanity is unsustainable and thus a form of cultural change is fundamentally necessary, rather than simply desirable, and that the preferable, or perhaps inevitable form for society to take after this change is tribalism. The call for a revolution is intended to either accomplish or survive this change. Anarcho-Primitivism has been cited as an influence on or even a variant of radical neotribalism.
Radicals interpret the 'environment' of the Evolutionary Principle to be mainly physical and economic.
The movement has also been accused of being Eurocentric, insulting traditional indigenous cultures through insincere and inaccurate imitation, thereby reviving the 19th-century myth of the Noble savage. The writer Malcolm Bull argues that neotribal or "autonomist" attacks on the capitalist system are in reality within the ideology of that system and serve ultimately to support it.